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The U.S. IPO market has gained momentum with a total of 21 deals completed so far this month, raising an aggregate of $5.6 billion and posting an average return of 18%. The largest deal was completed by Arcos Dorados (ARCO), McDonald's largest franchisee with 1,755 locations in Latin America, which raised $1.2 billion in its IPO. China-based Internet security firm Qihoo 360 (QIHU) leads in terms of performance and has traded up 131% from its $14.50 offer price.

The recent surge in filing activity is another positive indicator for the U.S. IPO market. A total of 31 companies have submitted their initial filings with the SEC since the beginning of April, already making it the most active month since 40 companies filed in August 2007. Nearly half of this month's filings were submitted in the past week alone. The diverse group covers a wide range of sectors, with notable themes.

Online portals/content providers

Renren (RENN) operates the leading social networking online platform in China with 117 million users and filed to raise $531 million by offering 53.1 million ADSs at a range of $9 to $11. The Beijing-based company also plans to raise $110 million in a private placement with Alibaba, China Media Capital and CITIC Securities. Bankrate, a leading publisher, aggregator and distributor of personal finance content on the internet, filed to raise up to $500 million. The North Palm Beach, FL-based company booked $301 million in pro forma sales last year. Goldman Sachs (GS), BofA Merrill Lynch (BAC), Citi (C) and J.P. Morgan (JPM) are the lead underwriters. Zillow, which operates an online marketplace providing detailed real estate information on 100 million U.S. homes, filed to raise up to $52 million. The Seattle, WA-based company booked $31 million in sales last year, nearly doubling 2009. Citi is the lead underwriter. Jiayuan.com International (DATE), China's largest online dating site with over 40 million registered users, filed on April 20 to raise up to $100 million. The company booked $25 million in sales last year. BofA Merrill Lynch and Citi are the lead underwriters.

On-demand software firms

Trustwave (TWIH), which provides on-demand compliance management software, filed to raise up to $100 million. The Chicago, IL-based company booked $112 million in sales last year. Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Barclays Capital (BCS) are the lead underwriters. WageWorks (WAGE), an on-demand provider of health, commuter and other employee spending account benefits programs, filed to raise up to $75 million. The San Mateo, CA-based company booked $112 million in sales last year. Credit Suisse (CS) and William Blair are the lead underwriters.

Retailers

Francesca's (FRAN), an affordable boutique offering women's apparel and jewelry with 236 locations in 38 states, filed to raise up to $150 million. The Houston, TX-based company booked $135 million in sales last year. Private equity firm CCMP Capital acquired a controlling interest in the company in February 2010 and currently holds an 84% stake. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Jefferies & Co. (JEF) are the lead underwriters. Party City (PRTY), a vertically integrated provider of decorated party supplies with roughly 800 locations in the U.S., filed to raise up to $350 million. The Elmsford, NY-based company, which booked $1.6 billion in sales last year, was acquired by PE firms Berkshire Partners (36% pre-IPO stake) and Weston Presidio (17%) in April 2004. Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank Securities (DB) are the lead underwriters. Bluestem Brands (BSTM), a multi-brand retailer offering a wide range of products targeting low to middle income customers, filed to raise up to $150 million. The Eden Prairie, MN-based company, which booked $521 million in sales for the 12 months ended January 28, 2011, also offers credit products allowing customers to pay for their purchases over time. Deutsche Bank Securities and Piper Jaffray (PJC) are the lead underwriters.

Renewable energy companies

KiOR (KIOR), which operates a proprietary platform that converts non-food biomass into hydrocarbon-based oil, filed to raise up to $100 million. The Pasadena, TX-based company has yet to generate revenue. Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank (UBS) and Goldman Sachs are the lead underwriters. BrightSource Energy (BSE), a solar technology company that develops utility-scale solar electric power plants, filed to raise up to $250 million. The Oakland, CA-based company booked $13 million in sales lastyear and is backed by sponsors such as VantagePoint Capital Partners (25%), Alstom Power (18%), Morgan Stanley (MS) (11%) and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (7%). Goldman Sachs, Citi and Deutsche Bank Securities are the lead underwriters.

Source: IPO Filings Surge to 4-Year High